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With Adaptive Skiing, Disabled People No Longer Left Out In The Cold
March means spring break is just around the corner, and for New Mexico it means mild temperatures and fresh snow — perfect conditions for visiting area ski resorts. A growing number of resorts are now offering programs that cater to vacationers with disabilities, and resort owners say it has proved to be a boost for business. At a Taos Ski Valley chairlift, Barbara and Philip Logan prepare their son, Tilghman, for his first day of ski lessons. The Logans traveled from New York City to Taos, N.M., for a winter vacation, and Tilghman can't wait to begin his ski lesson. Tilghman has a severe form of cerebral palsy that limits much of his physical movement and some of his eyesight. But that's not stopping him and his father from experiencing the snow. With some careful planning and specialized equipment, the duo hopes to be tearing up the slopes together in no time.
Ski instructor Craig Stagg takes the group up the lift to demonstrate a few sit ski basics. A sit ski is a specially made sled developed for people with limited use of their lower limbs, allowing them to slide down a mountain much like an able-bodied skier. The resort must offer adaptive ski lessons under the Americans with Disabilities Act because it sits on Forest Service land. Eric Lipp, executive director of the Open Doors Organization, an advocacy group helping people with disabilities get access to travel and other consumer opportunities, says people with disabilities are extremely vocal, and they're a large group with significant buying power. A recent market study shows that the disabled community now spends more than $13 billion each year on travel. As the general population continues to age, Lipp says, that number is only expected to grow
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